Enterprise visits a species with three genders only one of them is considered to be of a lower caste. Originally broadcast on April 30, 2003 this is Cogenitor.
Captain’s Starlog date Undetermined.
Enterprise makes first contact with the Vissians who immediately appear to be very pleasant and friendly. They soon discover that the Vissians have three genders (Male, Female and Cogenitor) and that the latter are only used for the purpose of procreation in their species. Otherwise they are considered to be nothing more than pets. Tucker takes issue with this and soon befriends the Cogenitor onboard who quickly shows an aptitude beyond what his species claim them to have. After Tucker encourages the Cogenitor to learn to read and to expand their knowledge, The Cogenitor, who has no name, soon takes the name Charles in honor of his friend Charles Tucker.
While Tucker deals with his conundrum, Archer enjoys learning how to pilot a stratopod while Reed finds himself involved in one of the Vissians who is quite interested in having a ‘relationship’ with the Chief Security officer.
Tucker brings Charles to the ship to introduce them to more things but this soon becomes a problem when the Vissians take offense to Tuckers activities and break off communications with Enterprise. Charles sneaks back onto Enterprise and asks for asylum and this seriously complicates matters as Charles is necessary for a couple of Vissians to have a child together. Despite Charles’ request for Asylum, Archer is forced to return them to their people resulting in Charles unexpected suicide.
Archer chastises Tucker for interfering in the alien culture noting that it is not humanities place to change cultures they meet, but to understand and embrace the differences between them all. Due to Tuckers interference Charles is dead and a couple may not be able to have a child. Tucker admits that he did not think through the ramifications of his actions before hand.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Oh man this episode did not age well. While I understand the original intent of this episode and how it is important to not interfere with other species’ way of life, the fact that this is a story about species with multiple biological sexes makes it feel a little insensitive given the current changes in today’s society.
The idea of multiple genders is not a new thing, in fact it is currently accepted that humans have as many as 72 gender identities with variations being recognized every day. In many cultures people are seen as gender binary and at the time of the broadcast of this episode, based of of this assumption, the idea of a tri, or even quad gender species was something truly unique and ‘alien’. When Tucker discovers that a species with three cis-genders yet one was treated no better than a pet or an appliance, he takes great offense to the Cogenitor’s perceived abuse. Looked at from the perspective of the Prime Directive, this episode makes a lot of sense, it’s never a good idea to involve yourself in other cultures issues or standards. However, had this episode been made today, this would have been a tremendous opportunity to explore gender equality and LBGTQ+ rights here on Earth.
While I am not a proponent for the “Humans are here to fix the universe” trope that we will see on a normal basis in the Original series, I would have loved to have seen this episode tackle the idea of an evolved humanity helping bring about change in a world with a species who abuses one of their own gender groups. Instead of Charles killing themselves, they could have secretly taught others of what they learned, or, even if they did commit suicide, this could have been seen as a catalyst for change in the Vissian species. The implications that this episode could have had are astronomical taking the concept that was briefly visited by STNG in The Outcast but taken to a whole new level. Sadly, much like much of the rest of this series, Enterprise tries to play it safe by ignoring the beautiful potential, focusing only on why it was important for Trip to just follow the rules.
Overall, this episode is not a good one. While it gets it’s point across within the continuity, it is a tone deaf story that completely ignores it’s greater purpose, one of gender understanding and equality. All this episode manages to do is make you feel bad for Charles and upset with Archer and his crew for doing nothing to help an essentially enslaved people who are used merely for procreation.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Archer claims that Tuckers actions were not what ‘he would do’, sadly Archer would have likely done exactly the same thing.
- Several films are shown on the screen when Tucker is looking for a movie to show Charles, including such classics as Dixon Hill and the Black Orchid and Bride of Chaotica!
- We never learn if Reed and Veylo find time to be intimate but it’s quite likely…I have to wonder if he is worried about Space Herpes now…
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Regeneration
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Late To The Game 8/11/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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